Attorney For the Damned
Denis Woychuk. Composer/Musical Director: Rob McCulloch
Kraine Theatre, New York
In a small theatre tucked away in New York's East Village, Attorney for the Damned is using its author's experiences in the criminal justice system (defending the criminally insane) to string together the tale of Laura Skyhorse (whose Native American heritage provides material for a number of taunts from the oversexed District Attorney) and her fall from idealism.
As a concept, the notion of exploring the criminal justice system for a peek into the minds of the mad is strong and engaging, but audiences looking for a musical Law & Order might want to look elsewhere - this tale is more Rocky Horror than SVU.
As Skyhorse, Allison Johnson has a clear, sweet voice, although at times her motivations feel a bit foggy. This is true of several of her fellow cast members, with Vancussy (Juliana Smith) the standout in terms of striking the irreverent and bawdy tone this genre requires.
On the men's side of the narrative, crazed criminals Sixx (Pat Mattingly) and Garrett Cooke (Denny Blake) hold up well, with one particularly heartrending song from Dr Marcus (Ray Fisher).
For the most part, the delight of this show is watching the performers have fun. The production clocks in at around ninety minutes, with the final twenty minutes or so seeming to unravel a bit in terms of narrative. While Woychuk implies the sexual components of his characters' situations, the actual staging of sexuality seems remarkably restrained - especially with one character being described as a woman of voracious sexual appetite.
Set Designer Gwedolyn Witkin and Costumer Jeaho Lee have created a vivid and internally consistent world, dressed in goth/rock/chic. The stage, which is bare throughout aside from the live Damn Band, is simple but evocative, and the performers create settings like a law office, a sewer, and an interrogation-style room clearly.
For twenty dollars a ticket, Attorney for the Damned is certainly worth what you're paying, and the welcome presence of a bar upstairs (and permission to take drinks into the theatre) make it worth considering for a low-key night out.
Our former Edinburgh reviewer, Rachel Lynn Brody, has moved back to the United States and is now giving us the occasional taste of US theatre.
Reviewer: Rachel Lynn Brody